“There is no substitute” – stepping into the strangely welcoming world of Mewn.

Busy mixing the brooding with the bittersweet, and the sensitive with the sublime, the Manchester quintet discuss the city that shaped them, and the philosophies behind their second EP, ‘Such as This’.

Words: Elvis Thirlwell | Photo: Through The Eyes Of Ruby

“It has of course been a big influence on us. I think it can be a very honest, heart on your sleeve place with a sense of community, culture and politics still engrained in it which is inspiring for creating art, I think.”

The place? Manchester. The band? Mewn. Two EPs in, and the five-piece are ingrained in the landscape of their city, aware of its musical heritage and their own place in it.

“We rehearse in a fairly derelict old mill in Ancoats in Manchester. It has all of the aesthetic of the crumbling former industrial city which I think is quite synonymous with great Mancunian music of the past, which we’re all of course fans of.. but I’d say we certainly don’t want to rehash any of that kind of thing”, state the band. “I feel like when you live here and listen to music like that it makes sense that it is from here. Whether our music does I’m not sure but I think I would hope in some ways, however subtle, it does.”

Whether they sound like a Mancunian band or not, it’s certainly music that’s hard to define with unwieldy catch-all phrases. On the one hand, congenial and welcoming like a wood-burning fire, and on the other, edged in this aura of intangible mystique, one has to abstractly lean to the various moods and evocations summoned by their most recent release –  the sophomore EP ‘Such as This’ – to express a flavour of its contents. 

Amidst a broody sci-fi instrumental (‘Carousel’,) and some eerie turns of spoken word, (‘A Crematorium’), there’s the wistful jubilation of opener ‘Swell’ – a pop-rock ballad of 70s sensibility – or the chug-a-chug indie-folk hookworms of lead single ‘Two Days’ adding  bittersweetness to the brew. Then we consider the epic, sidling slowcore of ‘There is no Substitute’ and see a band toying with their listenership, squashing and stretching their own formats to produce a delicious assortment of results.

 And while all seems very disorderly and muddled, one remains able to exit the world of Mewn with a clear sense of their band’s character and identity. The EP sits united by a brittle softness of tone, a lackadaisy;  by a penchant for warmth of melodic comforts, which permeates all of their creations. What do the band think brings together an undeniably eclectic approach?

“I suppose one aspect that we think it contains throughout is a backbone of folk or earthiness. We really want our releases to feel coherent and like you gain a lot for listening to the whole thing from start to finish as opposed to individual tracks”, they add. “There’s nothing wrong with listening to individual tracks, we all enjoy doing it but aim for our releases to fit and make sense together and that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Having this in mind makes writing more enjoyable and fruitful for us I think.”

And while their output so far has felt like a mighty achievement in its own right, this is all just the start for Mewn’s work. It’s their hope, and ours, and bigger things are yet afoot.

“We are very proud of what we have done so far but it does feel like just the beginning. Everything we have done has been without large amounts of financial support and with all of us basically working full time simultaneously.”

“We have embraced a fairly DIY approach to this point as it has allowed us to shape a lot of it ourselves. We have of course had a lot of help and been supported by some very talented and hard working people but we are really chomping at the bit to move onto the next level and take everything we have learnt and do it on a bigger scale. We feel like we are ready to take the next step and make an album that really means something to people.”

Mewn’s Second EP ‘Such as This’ is now available via Simonie Records.